The Ukraine crisis has made Jeff Flake’s new job  even more ‘complicated’ and ‘difficult’: journalist

The Ukraine crisis has made Jeff Flake’s new job  even more ‘complicated’ and ‘difficult’: journalist

In January, Jeff Flake — a conservative Republican and former U.S. senator who endorsed Joe Biden for president in 2020 — started a new job: U.S. ambassador to Turkey. Journalist Sam Brodey, in an article published by the Daily Beast on March 11, stresses that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made Flake’s job even more “complicated.”

“In his September 2021 confirmation hearing,” Brodey explains, “Flake’s former Senate colleagues warned he had his work cut out for him in the Turkish capital of Ankara. But that was months before Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to invade Ukraine, immediately making Flake’s already complicated job even more difficult.”

Turkey once had a reputation for being the most liberal and democratic country in the Islamic world, but in recent years, the country has taken a more authoritarian turn under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Nonetheless, Turkey is still a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and Brodey points out that the Biden Administration needs Turkey’s cooperation in its efforts to help Ukraine.

“In 2017,” Brodey notes, “Turkey purchased $2.5 billion worth of missile defense systems from Russia, a move that prompted alarm in Washington and tough U.S. sanctions on Turkey. Now, some experts believe the West’s ability to stymie Russia’s bloody war could hinge on Turkey’s willingness to help…. The view on Turkey’s moves, so far, is mixed. Some argue Erdogan has taken a tougher-than-expected line toward Moscow, while others feel that his government is unhelpfully playing both sides.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being described by many military experts as the most dangerous conflict in Europe since World War II — even more dangerous than the fighting that plagued the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s after the demise of the Soviet Union. If Putin, God forbid, were to attack one of the NATO countries bordering on Ukraine — for example, Poland, Romania or Hungary — the U.S. would be obligated to respond. And a NATO/Russia war could easily mean World War 3.

James F. Jeffrey, who served as U.S. ambassador to Turkey under President Barack Obama, told the Beast, “It is hard to imagine success for NATO in this crisis without at least diplomatic support from Turkey.”

The 59-year-old Flake, according to Brodey, really has his work cut out for him during these tense times.

“Flake now has a core responsibility in ensuring the Turkish cooperation that U.S. observers say is critical to turning the tide in Ukraine,” Brodey observes. “And according to Jeffrey, he is hardly a figurehead in Ankara — the U.S ambassador is a central player in the protocol-focused Turkish government’s diplomatic operations, giving the diplomat unparalleled space to shape high-level discussions between the countries.”

Flake told the Beast, “My Embassy team and I engage every day with the Turkish government, as well as the Ukrainian Embassy here, to discuss ways in which we can help Ukraine…. Turkey has been steadfast in its support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

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